Possible influence on a Fleming story

BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,077Chief of Staff

Bear with me on this one…

I’ve been watching the three movies in the Universal “Creature from The Black Lagoon” series (they’re short films, between 60 and 90 minutes). These were made in the 1950s, and were Universal’s last go at their well-known horror cycle (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man, etc). The main Bond connection is that the Creature (when underwater) is played by Ricou Browning who worked on the underwater scenes in “Thunderball” and of course “Never Say Never Again”.

The first is “Creature From The Black Lagoon” (1954), which had some slight influence on Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975). The second is “Revenge Of The Creature” (1955) which was practically remade as “Jaws 3” (aka Jaws 3D, 1983) both in overall plot and specifics. It also features the first screen appearance of a very young Clint Eastwood as a lab tech. None of these are original thoughts and can easily be found online.

The third is “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956) and I just watched this tonight. Here’s a quick plot summary-

A rich, unpleasant guy either owns or charters a boat and goes searching for a rare water creature, the expenses for which he can write off against tax. He brings along his young blonde glamorous wife, with whom he has an unhealthy relationship, and hires professional help. His methods are unethical, involving poisoning the water to obtain the creature. About halfway through the story, all are having a drink and the rich guy has too much and is off-putting to the people he has hired and nasty to his wife. As a direct result of his own behaviour, he is killed towards the end of the story, and at the end his widow is much happier because she is finally free, although some questions remain unanswered.

Okay, got that? If it sounds familiar, it should. Every word of that can be applied to Ian Fleming’s “The Hildebrand Rarity” (published 1960 as part of the “For Your Eyes Only” anthology). Now I’m not suggesting that Our Founder secretly liked to watch B-grade (and I’m being generous) horror movies- I think that we would know about that by now, given the amount of research that has been done on his life and the various biographies that have been written- but it is interesting that there are so many identical plot points between a 1956 film and his 1960 story.

I grant that I have been selective in summarising the film’s plot, but I thought the similarities were definitely worth mentioning as I’m pretty sure they haven’t been commented on previously.


  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 1,105MI6 Agent

    Great spot !

    I wouldn't put it past Fleming to have seen this or heard about it. The question, as you say, is why haven't we ever heard about it? Maybe he had a good relationship with the art and entertainment department on The Sunday Times and - cue a hint for an 'Imaginary Conversation' - it got discussed in the office over a couple of post-meet whiskies.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,298MI6 Agent

    that's pretty persuasive, there's not much more to The Hildebrandt Rarity except the character study of the two Krests.

    I think Fleming might have dug a film like that. Think of his own descriptions of the swampy waters of Dr No's island, the "dragon" and the squid. We know he loved those weird swampy ecosystems and the critters that lived in them, and he had a taste for Gothic horror.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,077Chief of Staff

    Here's a still from the film-

    This is from the drinking scene mentioned above. We're on the boat, and we see the rich unpleasant guy in the middle getting drunk. His oppressed wife is pouring the drinks, and the expert on the left. He's about to upset the expert who leaves shortly after, and be obnoxious to his wife. This scene is very similar to one in Fleming's story.

    The lady, seen here in another scene on the boat

    spends a lot of time in a swimsuit (sorry, couldn't find a still) as does Fleming's Liz Krest, needless to say.

  • 72897289 Beau DesertPosts: 1,675MI6 Agent

    Good observation on the similar plot of both stories. I have never read any evidence that IF was a movie bug, beyond trying to use the industry as a money making vehicle. “Creature” movies would not seem to appeal to him.

    An alternate suggestion, a bit more likely in my view, is that Hollywood stole Fleming’s story. While “Rarity” was published in 1960, I believe it was written earlier as one of the plots for a possible TV series. These plot ideas could have been “hijacked” by producers when pitching the series. “Creature Walks” has been long regarded as the low mark in the series. The plot being focused on the expedition members with the monster more of a side element. So it does stand out as very atypical of the genre.

    I prefer to think that IF had more integrity, than lifting plots from “B” movies for his writing projects. While one could point to the “Thunderball” mess with McClory - I would point out that case was not fully litigated but settled due to IF’s health issues. When it comes to character I will pick Fleming over McClory every time.

    I choose Fleming over Hollywood too.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,077Chief of Staff

    I like that idea, but it won't fit the timeline. Fleming went to the Seychelles in 1958 ie two years after the movie in concern, and that trip became the main influence on "Hildebrand".

  • 72897289 Beau DesertPosts: 1,675MI6 Agent

    I can’t make a legitimate counterpoint since all my Fleming biographies are currently stowed away. So in principal I agree that the “Creature” movie and “Hildebrand” do have strangely similar plots. Most likely it is happenstance or coincidence as opposed to enemy action.

    IMO the last creature film has always been a real favorite of mine. The Hildebrand short story is one of Fleming’s more vivid, his descriptions of the reef are outstanding examples of his great talent.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,077Chief of Staff

    Happenstance or coincidence would seem most likely. As you say, I'd like to think of Fleming having more integrity.

  • 00730073 COPPosts: 855MI6 Agent

    Yup, I'd wager that it is just a coincidence. Quite a lot of detective stories have a similar plot line as a prelude to the actual story of the detective finding out whodunnit.

    Often the scene is an English country manor, but can be a yacht, cabin in the woods, ocean going passenger cruiser or an island, just to name a few places that have featured in stories I have read with similar plot lines.

    Also; the victim can also be a wife, ex-wife, father, brother, sister etc.

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,077Chief of Staff

    ...and there is a stepson/nephew/adopted son who wants more money from the matriarch/patriarch who refuses, and everyone hears the young man yelling "I'll kill you" or similar before stomping off, and the old rich person is found dead the next morning.

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